Category News

NGO unveils $1.6bn bid to save the oceans

Coral reefs are under threat

The Nature Conservancy plans to deliver ‘Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation’ to help protect most vulnerable underwater habitats. Global non-profit The Nature Conservancy has announced a $1.6bn plan to help save and restore the world’s oceans by selling ‘blue bonds’ to coastal and island countries.

The Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative will refinance and restructure debt for coastal and island countries, so long as those nations commit to protecting at least 30 per cent of their near-shore ocean areas, including coral reefs, mangroves, and other important ocean habitats.

In exchange for enhanced ocean protections, the TNC says the Blue Bond will give nations better terms for debt repayment and support with ongoing conservation work.

TNC says it has already secured more than $...

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Can you spot ocean plastic from space?

Plastic polluting the Oceans

Scientists are working on a technique to track plastic debris in the ocean from space. It’s extremely challenging, especially since the individual pieces of litter are smaller than the minimum-sized objects that satellites can resolve.

But the approach works by looking for plastic’s reflected light signature in the water.

And early trials conducted by the UK’s Plymouth Marine Laboratory have been very encouraging.

“You’re never going to see an individual plastic bottle floating on the sea, but we can detect aggregations of this material,” Dr Lauren Biermann told BBC News.

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What a planet-wide network of sanctuaries could look like

Starfish on coral

What comes to mind when you think of the high seas? Pirates, whales, giant squid and great white sharks?

Long the subject of stories and myths, life in the oceans beyond territorial waters is far from picture perfect. Under threat from climate change, acidification, overfishing, pollution and deep-sea mining, the area is now a focus for international scientists, who want to limit exploitation with ocean sanctuaries.

“Extraordinary losses of seabirds, turtles, sharks and marine mammals reveal a broken governance system,” said Professor Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York...

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Right whale protection zone is expanded

North Atlantic right whale

Vessel speed restrictions put in place to protect migrating whales have been extended to late April, according to federal officials.

The voluntary vessel speed restriction zone put in place by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also been expanded to cover areas off the coast as far north as Gloucester and around the Cape, extending down just south of Block Island, NOAA officials said on Wednesday.

The speed restriction will continue to limit boats to 10 knots or fewer, and NOAA is encouraging boaters to be extra vigilant in shipping lanes because whales have been spotted in those areas.

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Carbon lurking in deep ocean threw ancient climate switch, say researchers

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, seen here in simplified form, brings warm water northward

A million years ago, a longtime pattern of alternating glaciations and warm periods dramatically changed, when ice ages suddenly became longer and more intense. Scientists have long suspected that this was connected to the slowdown of a key Atlantic Ocean current system that today once again is slowing. A new study of sediments from the Atlantic bottom directly links this slowdown with a massive buildup of carbon dragged from the air into the abyss. With the system running at full speed, this carbon would have percolated back into the air fairly quickly, but during this period it just stagnated in the depths. This suggests that the carbon drawdown cooled the planet—the opposite of the greenhouse effect we are seeing now, as humans pump carbon into the atmosphere...

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100,000 whale-based school dinners

The carcass of a Baird's Beaked whale

Six-year-old Reto Aisaka was jumping up and down on the windswept dock. For five months, he’d been counting the days until his dad, Toru, returned from a whale hunt. The boy was up at dawn to meet him. Shimonoseki, on the westernmost tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, celebrated the return of its small whaling fleet late last month.

The mother ship, Nisshin Maru, carried the meat from 333 Antarctic minke whales. But it was a celebration that masked deep uncertainty about the future of Japan’s whaling industry.

The whales were taken under the guise of research – a designation that has kept Japan’s whaling industry alive despite a three-decade moratorium on commercial whaling.

These were the last Japanese whalers to return from the rich waters of Antarctica’s Southern ...

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Heatwave Causes Extreme Coral Bleaching In Australian Marine Park

Residents of the coral reefs in Lord Howe Island Marine Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been hit with widespread coral bleaching

The world’s southernmost coral reefs have fallen victim to climate change. According to reports, the Lord Howe Island Marine Park is experiencing severe coral bleaching.

In some areas, about 90 percent of reefs have been damaged. Scientists said that this is the worst coral bleaching that the UNESCO World Heritage Site has experienced in recent memory.

Warm Summer Water Causes Widespread Coral Bleaching

Researchers from Newcastle University, James Cook University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have surveyed the area for the past two weeks. They revealed that the bleaching occurred over the past summer, peaking in March, due to sustained heatwaves and warm ocean water temperature.

They also reported that the bleaching is at its most severe in shallow w...

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Ascension to get a massive marine reserve

Loggerhead turtle in he Ascension Islands

In a remote spot in the South Atlantic, roughly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) from the coast of West Africa, lies Ascension Island, one of the U.K.’s Overseas Territories. In January 2016, the British government announced plans made by Ascension’s elected governing body to protect the island’s biodiverse waters with a marine reserve spanning 230,000 square kilometers (90,000 square miles), an area almost as big as the U.K. itself. Fishing is prohibited in half this area and closely regulated in the other half.

On March 14, however, the U.K...

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Endangered hawksbill turtle trade much bigger than suspected

Hawksbill turtle shell being traded

The shell of an adult hawksbill sea turtle consists of about a dozen overlapping scales colored with streaks of gold, brown, orange, and red. Hawksbills have long been hunted for their shells—the ancient Romans, for example, fashioned the scales into combs and rings.

Hawksbill scales are still being carved and polished into decorative and functional objects—tortoiseshell jewelry, trinkets, sunglasses. But the difference today is that killing hawksbills is forbidden. That’s been the case since 1977, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the body that regulates cross-border trade in wildlife, assigned the hawksbill sea turtle its highest level of protection.

Meanwhile, the International Union for the Conservation of N...

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Thumbs up for marine blueprint in the Mediterranean

Mediterranean monk seals are exposed to a barrage of threats

Thanks to a trailblazing marine protection initiative in Turkey, the tide may finally be turning for the Mediterranean monk seal – one of the world’s most threatened marine mammals.

Mediterranean monk seals are exposed to a barrage of threats throughout their limited range, including habitat deterioration, pollution, accidental entanglement in fishing gear, disturbance at breeding sites and reduced availability of prey as a result of unsustainable and illegal fishing practices.

The global population of this endearing but endangered pinniped may be as low as 600 individuals, and the total number of adults is estimated at no more than 450. The Aegean Sea harbours the largest subpopulation, and around 100 of these seals are found in Turkish waters.

Gökova Bay Special Environmental...

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